Can you tell me a little about yourself?
My name is Kristina. I am a Macedonian language and literature professor, currently teaching courses for Macedonian language for foreigners. I am 27 years old, I live in Skopje and I have two cats :) Three years ago I started hand embroidery as a hobby, and one year later it developed into KVembroidery- my official small business.
Why are you in business?
I appreciate the incredible opportunity to be able to create something on your own and from your heart, that your customers can recognize and connect with. You are your own boss, you learn so many different aspects of running a small business and you meet a lot of other artisans that you can share your experiences with. Overall, being in business teaches you a lot about the actual business, and that much more about yourself and your skills.
Why are in this type of business?
All the women in my family have some creative skill, whether it’s knitting, painting, sewing, etc. Also I have always been into and doing handmade DYI projects when you can create beautiful stuff from almost nothing. When I saw some modern embroidering videos I thought I should try that. After that, embroidery just clicked with my personality and it became my great passion.
What is your background? (education, work experience etc.)
I graduated Macedonian language and South Slavic languages at the Faculty of Philology, „Blaze Koneski“ in Skopje. I teach Macedonian language and literature as a mother-tongue and also as a foreign language. I worked as an elementary and middle school educator and I did some academic creative writing.
Can you provide me with a description of your business?
I started with modern hand embroidery on decorative embroidery hoops. But now I handstitch on shirts, bags, pillows, necklaces and a lot of other stuff made from different materials. I use variety of embroidery techniques and do different modern motives and original designs that I personally make.
How long have you been in business?
Officially I am in this business for two years now.
What type of business form do you have, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation?
I have sole proprietorship. I work from home and I take online orders via the instagram and facebook page of KVembroidery.
What are the advantages of this form of business ownership?
The advantages are being my own boss, which means all the decision making is in my hands and I do not depend on someone else’s schedule. I solely decide how I’m going to be representing my brand to the world and I give the direction and progress of my business.
How did you get started in this business?
At first I started embroidery as a hobby. A lot of my friends and family that had seen my work continuously encouraged me to make at least a fb or instagram page for other people to see it too. When I felt it was the right time, I opened the fb and isntagram account of KVembroidery. Few weeks later, I participated in my first bazaar and did my first official sale of my products.
How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
As I said, my family background is filled with talented and skillful women so I was already familiar with skills similar to embroidery. I knew the materials and some of the craft’s techniques. And I watched tons of embroidering videos, read and learned about embroidery on the internet but most importantly, practiced and practiced a lot. You can learn all of the theory, but if you don’t feel the material, try (and fail ☺) hundred times, you won’t learn. You have to introduce your hands to the tools and connect them with the creation. I learned the business aspects and rules afterwards, with experience in selling, collaborations and by visiting many trainings for small business owners.
How do the social, economic, environmental, technological, legal and political environments impact your business?
They impact my business a lot. Whether it’s the legal protection of my work and my rights as a small business owner, the cost and safety shipping of my products, increase/decrease of the prices, the importance of the small businesses versus big manufacturers, support from the Government and the organizations etc. In my experience all of these things are currently on a very low priority level in my country and we, as an independent artisans have a long and difficult way to go to reach awareness and better rights for small business owners. Fortunately, I have noticed lately that the social impact and general appreciation of the handmade items is moving in a very positive direction, and more and more artists encourage themselves to start a small business.
Do you know who your competitors are?
I know my competitors very well, and I try to keep up with their work and projects. In my country, it’s a habit to have a negative attitude towards your competitors, but that won’t help you or your business. It is very important to keep a track with your competition in a constructive and positive way, that can lead you to mastering and improving your business, sharing experiences and getting to know your audience.
How do you market your business?
How are people aware of your business? I market my business mainly through social media. I have instagram and facebook pages where you can contact me and purchase an order, you can see all my recent work, and updates about upcoming shows. Of course there are a lot of other ways I present my work. Radio interviews, website articles, social media promotions and collaborations and bazaars or similar events that include showing and selling of handmade goods.
Where do you see your business in the future?
Hopefully, improved and developed into a full time job ☺
Do you plan to compete in the global market place?
Yes, I definitely will try to present and sell my products in the other parts of the world. It can be done by reaching a wider audience through social media and then sites like Etsy, where people from around the world can purchase your product.
How has technology, such as computers and the internet, impacted on how you conduct business?
We live in the most advanced technology era, so everything is available to you with just one click, and that’s a big advantage small business owners have now, so I try to use it smartly. Whether is online shopping, connecting with my customers, learning more and more about embroidery or just using a lot of helpful apps to modernize the presentation of my work in front of my audience. It has helped me in a lot of ways.
Why is your business located at this site?
Because I love to be involved in projects that support small business owners and small businesses in general. Whom do you seek advice from for your business? Depending on what do I need the advice for. If it’s something legal, I turn to professionals who have experience with that aspect of the work. If it’s marketing and social media, I ask other skilled people that I respect and I know they are successful at their job. If it’s something creative or I need some advice about my projects and products, I usually ask my family, my friends, other fellow artisans and of course my dear customers. But the end decision is always made by me and my intuition.
What do you do with your profits?
I use one part of the profit to invest in new materials and tools I need for my work, and sometimes one part for trainings and conferences that I have scheduled. The rest of it I use for everyday expenses. I also firmly believe in treating myself after a good sale, not just with things that I need, but with something that I want. Like travels and desserts ☺
Do you have a business plan to operate your business?
Honestly, when I started I didn’t have any long term plan. But as I became more experienced with the work and ownership I started making more precised and organized short term and long term plans for my work and my projects.
Does your business have a stated mission statement, the reason that this business exists?
The main goal of my business firstly is to express my individual self and my personal style through my creations. Sharing my products and them bringing joy to someone else’s life and home is also a big goal of my work. Everything I stitch, is #stitchedewithlove.
Do you have employees?
For now I am doing all the work. The only “employees“ I have are my volunteer assistants- my two cats Noli and Beki. But they are not much of a help to me, since they do none of the assisting, and all of the sleeping in the workplace. ☺
Do you do marketing for your business?
Yes. I do promotions on the social media accounts of KVembroidery, collaborations with other artisans, and interviews for websites.
Can you describe your customers?
My customers are mostly women, of all ages and from different parts of the country. The decorative hoops are mostly purchased by women for different purposes- for them or as a gift for their friends, some as a décor in their house, their baby’s nursery etc. Till now I’ve only had women’s collection of embroidered shirts, but I am planning to make collection for men too.
Why do your customers select you over your competitors?
I think that we all need to stay true to ourselves. People recognize and appreciate uniqueness. I make my own embroidery designs and even when I’m making custom orders I try to give the piece as much of me as the order allows. Having a fair relationship with your customers, respect deadlines and appreciate their say, is also a key ingredient that builds that mutual respect. I always tend to give my 100 % best of all these things, to maintain a good relationship and a future collaboration with my loyal customers.
Are there any ethical concerns that your type of business must deal with?
Yes. I am always making sure that my posts on social media have a positive context. I feel ethical obligation and responsibility to not offend anyone with my work, never discriminate or exclude, and to do no harm to the nature.
How do you overcome these ethical problems?
I’ve had some custom orders with some inappropriate language (nothing offensive, just like an intern joke between friends), and I don’t have problems with embroidering it, but I won’t post it on the social media. Everything I create and post, whether is a custom order or not, represents me and my brand. And I also never post orders for special occasions or some personal message without the approval of the customer first. I want to respect their privacy. I am trying to be more eco-friendly and practical with the materials that I use, so my creations can also contribute to persevering and protecting the nature and the Earth.
What is your management style?
My management style is know who you are, value your work and learn how to successfully prioritize your sources and your time.
What are the biggest issues for running this business?
The biggest blessing in this business is also the biggest issue-doing things all on your own. Everything depends on you and sometimes it is too much pressure to organize everything. You have to be the artist, the manager, the salesperson, the marketing and social media person and sometimes even the delivery person ☺ But with time and experience and a little help from others the pressure will go down. From practical point of you, for now the biggest issue remains the high shipping fee for international sales of my products and not having enough materials and tools I need for my work available here in my country.
What is the future for this type of business?
I think more and more people are trying to create something on their own nowadays. Online shopping is more popular than ever, we have the technologies and social media to connect with the world, which I think encourages people to start their own business having all of these advantages on their side. So, I think the future is bright ☺
If something happens to you, what will happen to your business?
My two catssistants will take over and ru(i)n it for me ☺
What did you learn from this interview?
It reminded me how many more aspects of running your own business are there to be discussed, shared and improved. It also showed me that only another fellow artisan knows exactly what questions need to be asked to get the real picture of our everyday life as a small business owners.